Classification of documents by the Ministry, department, any institution, agency or embassy which receives transfers from the departmental budget
For written reply
Question no: 284 (NW306E)
Mr JRB Lorimer (DA) to ask the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation;
How many documents have (a) her (i) Ministry and (ii) department and (b) any (i) institution, (ii) agency or (iii) embassy which receives transfers from her departmental budget classified as (aa) top secret, (bb) secret, (cc) confidential and (dd) restricted under the provisions of the Minimum Information Security Standards that were adopted by the Cabinet on 4 December 1996 in the (aaa) 2005/06, (bbb) 2006/07, (ccc) 2007/08, (ddd) 2008/09 and (eee) 2009/10 financial years;
What is the (a) the name and (b) (i) rank or (ii) employment level of the official who decided on the classification at each specified public body?
An indeterminate number of documents have been classified in keeping with MISS. Due to the lack of clear guidelines pertaining to the preparation of lists of classified information per category, it is not possible to provide the details requested as it involves a lot of documents. Previous inspections led to the review of the existing policies and the tabling of the Protection of Information Bill 2010, to put in place a new and uniform system that would overcome the current weaknesses.
The MISS provides that the author of the document, defined as the head of an institution, or the person acting on his/her behalf, who prepares, generates, or initially classifies a document or has it classified, does the classification. They range from members of the Senior Management System (SMS) to professionals of various sorts (analysts, field or desk officers, secretaries, Personal Assistants, Financial Experts etc) guided by their supervisors. The latter confirms the initial classification assigned by the former. Whilst this is a general trend, there is also no uniformity in this regard and the new system classification and declassification is designed to overcome these weaknesses.